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Mum let boyfriend discipline kids: court

AAP logoAAP 23/08/2016 Genevieve Gannon

The mother of a Melbourne two-year-old at the centre of a murder trial would let her ex-security guard boyfriend discipline her three young children, a Victorian jury has heard.

A woman who used to babysit the siblings - aged one, two and four at the time - told the Victorian Supreme Court the mother "couldn't handle" her two daughters and was rough with the girl.

The mother's boyfriend, Mussie Debresay, of Footscray, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the toddler, who died from internal injuries in mid-May 2005.

Prosecutors allege he stomped on and kicked the toddler.

Former babysitter Samantha Barry on Tuesday said the mother did not care for the children properly, did not keep their Maidstone flat clean, never had proper food in the house and would leave disciplining to others.

"She let him discipline them if I wasn't there," Ms Barry said of Debresay, who began dating the mother in the months before the two-year-old died.

Ms Barry said she once saw the mother push the two-year-old away when she was talking on the phone.

But she said she never noticed any bruises or unusual bumps on the children, whom she bathed and dressed regularly.

"I took over pretty much the mother role - it wasn't done the way I was brought up," Ms Barry told the court.

Ms Barry's sister, who had also cared for the children, said she saw the mother push the two-year-old away.

Erin King said she saw the toddler fall against the couch then onto the floor.

The girl was scared and crying and her mother continued to talk on the phone, Ms King told the court on Tuesday.

"If she had no time for them she would push them away."

Ms King was "absolutely astounded" by the lack of emotion shown by the mother when she met her the day after the two-year-old died.

The trial before Justice Terence Forrest continues.

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